They all sat on the ground, with a leso in place to avoid the dirt on their clothes. It was a Sunday, and with it, the best clothes came out for display.
A woman with a crying baby sat next to Winfred. He had the flu and runny nose thus the crying. One particular housefly hovered over the baby’s nose and the mother seemed unbothered. This irritated Winfred. She wanted to stand out today, but not next to the child with the running nose.
Winfred softened her heart when she remembered how it was to be a young mother. You see, her son George had just finished high school and had passed with flying colors. He wanted to be a lawyer, in order to help her get back her land from her in-laws. You see, Winfred’s husband had passed away six years ago, and with his death, she got to know the true colors of her dear in-laws.
No sooner had her sweet Henry been buried than they came to her homestead to divide the land amongst themselves. They left her the plot of land next to her homestead seeing that she had born a son. Beyond that, they raided the house, carried her sofa, her bed, her television and her new gas cooker. She went back to using cow dung for fuel and depending solely on the harvest of her small shamba. Two years down the line, her son came home with a woman from one of the humanitarian NGO’s. A white Christian woman. They had an outreach ministry at her son’s school and she was moved by his zeal to study despite the lack of shoes and a warm sweater. She said he stood out and she wanted to help. She sponsored George’s school fees and introduced Winfred to sheep farming. Soon enough, Winfred’s income increased and she managed to buy new furniture to fill her house again. Her son had good clothes to wear now and his mind more focused on school. Sadly, a year to his completing high school, his sponsor died. The church said it was cancer. She had no living relative, and thus, they were on their own again. But things were better now.
A year passed by fast after his exams and he was among the top five students in his school. She was proud of her son, and the achievements he had made in life. He had been called to The Grand University and was assured of a bright future. Her only problem was the fees surpassed her income, and that was why she was here.
Mzee Mtaa had a meeting in the town market today. He was running for a political seat, and this was a political year. A year when politicians had a sympathetic ear and a giving hand. If she could have a moment with Mtaa he would surely help pay her son’s fee.
The Master of ceremony announced the arrival of Mtaa as a fleet of Landcruiser’s drove up the market. There he was, on the roof the red Landcruiser, waving at his supporters. They all stood up and welcomed him with claps as the hired drummers danced and welcomed him.
“Karibu mheshimwa, karibu!” they sang to the rhythm of their drums. “Welcome honorable, welcome!”
He got out of his car and immediately was surrounded by his security all in black suits despite the heat. His wife followed dressed in her full African regalia, all in white symbolizing peace, and wealth to others. The soil in the area was red, and the water discolored. Therefore, only the rich could afford to wear white in such conditions.
Mheshimiwa went to the podium and without wasting time, apologized to the crowd that waited for him for so long. He promised water would be distributed them shortly to quench their thirst. He spoke of his opponent, and the current representative of the community; said that in four years he had nothing but enrich himself and his clansmen. He promised if he were elected in he would tarmac roads, he would ensure each home had piped water, each home had access to electricity and that the community would thrive through the export of sheep products and mutton. He reminded them that he was a farmer, that he had worked with the ministry of agriculture and therefore had the connections to make this work. The crowd cheered
The crowd cheered which excited him more. He spoke with such vigor, such confidence, such zeal that he inspired all those around.
He soon gave an opportunity to his listeners to speak. After a few men spoke, Winfred mastered the courage and stood up. She was ignored severally, but still, she persisted. Soon the women around her demanded the attention of the master of ceremony. Their shouts were too loud to be ignored and soon enough, Winfred had the microphone.
She spoke of her hard times in the hands of her in-laws and explained how hardworking her son was. She begged Mtaa to pay his school fees and in turn, they would elect him and pay him back as soon as he got his first salary.
The crowd was touched by her story, and Mtaa looked sympathetic as well. He called to her. In front of everyone, he swore to help her, and all those in the community like her. But he needed to be in government to create bursaries to fit everyone. He promised, if elected, he would personally follow up on her son’s education. With that, he gave her five thousand shillings, a T-shirt, water and most importantly, hope.
By the end of the day, Winfred went home to her son to share the good news of Mtaa’s promise to them. It was only a matter of months, she said smiling and hopeful. Only a matter of month’s till the truth comes to light.